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Mermaids Don’t Exist. Why Are People Arguing About Their Race?


Mermaids Don’t Exist. Why Are People Arguing About Their Race?

If everything about mermaids is fictional, why should Halle’s skin color matter?

Amongst emphatic support for Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’s live-action movie comes backlashes from viewers concerned with the decision to cast Halle Bailey, a Black actress, as the lead role. Critics pointed out the 1989 portrayal of Ariel is white, but Halle is Black, arguing the studios shouldn’t have deviated from the tradition.

A few critics had scientific backing. A Twitter user said with Ariel living in the Ocean; she would be subjected to less sunlight, produce less melanin and have light skin.

Mermaids Race 2
via Twitter

But according to another user’s logic, as per NBC News, every sea creature would have to be some shade of white, but tropical fishes are many different colors, including the ‘ultra-black’ viperfish. Weighing into the arguments, Folklorist Sascha Coward has insisted that mermaids are not biological creatures. 

Mermaids Race 1
Photo courtesy of Disney.

Sascha, referencing his Twitter posts of 2018, described mermaids as symbols present in many cultures, not solely in western folklore. 

He told Business Insider“Ariel lives in a warm coral reef, the biota around her implies she is not of European descent. White skin and bright red hair would also be a dead giveaway to predators,” arguing that people are using bad science to justify their racism. “With that in mind, looking at other aquatic mammals, Ariel is comparatively malnourished.”

“A real mermaid would probably be a large tan-skinned creature with plenty of blubber, hairless and sleek with paddle-like flippers!”

Sascha claims Ariel could even appear to be a manatee, of which Christopher Columbus had seen three in 1493 and mistook them for mermaids. If science is now used to determine the validity of ‘The Little Mermaid,’ Deseret reported it’s worth recognizing the 1989 animated Ariel’s friends spoke of seagull and crab, which has a Jamaican accent may lend credibility to Ariel being black. 

However, positive support for the movie and Halle Bailey’s casting is gradually outpacing the negative. Since the trailer dropped, most people have been posting their children’s reactions to seeing Halle Bailey cast as Ariel, so much that the #littlemermaidliveaction is trending. Besides, excited fans can’t wait much longer for the remake, ‘The Little Mermaid, ’ slated for theatrical release on May 26, 2023. 

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